There’s no greater way to foster a healthy baby than by the foods you eat before and during your pregnancy. Studies show that a balanced diet—like the one detailed in our book, Eat This, Not That! When You’re Expecting—leads to fewer complications, easier deliveries, fewer birth defects, and happier, fitter babies after they’re born.
That’s right. What you consume today can dictate what they want to eat tomorrow, and even how often they get sick. Here are just a few of the foods you should be fitting into your diet when you’re carrying an extra passenger.Are you having issues with your heart, then take a look at these top 9 tested best foods for your heart
Having a healthy community of gut microbes is very important for both maternal and infant health. Multiple studies have found a healthy microbiome can protect both you and your little one against immune-system flare-ups like allergies, and help you avoid preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, vaginal infections, and excess weight gain.
On the other hand, when your gut is out of whack, a study published in Pediatric Research noted that your baby might have impaired brain development, and other studies suggest your offspring could be predisposed to obesity.
Eating probiotics from yogurt and fermented foods can help, but sometimes when foods are pasteurized (which is a must to keep you from being vulnerable to pregnancy-threatening bacterial infections), their levels of probiotics decrease. That’s why one of the safest ways to improve your gut health during pregnancy is through eating more prebiotics like spinach.
This super veggie is full of sulfoquinovose, a source of food for your gut bugs which studies have found to play a role in developing a protective barrier in the gut, preventing the growth and colonization of bad bacteria.
2. Pumpkin Seeds
If you thought you’d never be a bodybuilder—think again. You’re literally building a body during pregnancy, which means you’ll also have to start pumping iron. Just not the same kind. Getting in more of the mineral, iron, will help your body make blood, which helps shuttle the needed amounts of oxygen to your baby. A deficiency can up the risk of premature birth, low birth weight, and even maternal and infant mortality.
The best thing about pumpkin seeds is you’ll only need to consume them in small quantities to reap the benefits: a single ounce contains more than 8 grams of protein and a whopping 23 percent of your DV of iron! Top your yogurt or oatmeal with some seeds, or thow them in trail mix for an on-the-go snack.
This ancient, gluten-free grain is touted for its exceptional balance of oil, fiber, protein, and fat. Quinoa is high in folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese, making it a nutrient-packed source of carbohydrates for long-lasting energy levels and to help nurture your kiddo.
What’s more, it’s a complete protein—meaning it has all 9 essential amino acids—making it particularly beneficial for those who don’t eat animal products and for expecting mothers. Protein is essential for healthy growth and development of the fetus, but also to support the strong development of fetal-support tissues including the placenta and extraembryonic membranes, which is why protein requirements for pregnant women are higher than non-pregnant women.
No wonder mom was always trying to get you to eat broccoli; it’s quite the superfood! Just a half a cup of cooked broccoli has 85 percent of your vitamin C DV. Vitamin C is crucial for the production of collagen: a structural protein necessary in building bones, cartilage, tendons, and skin (which is why you need it during pregnancy) and also for maintaining your own skin’s youthful appearance and elasticity.
Not to mention, the vitamin also works to boost your body’s absorption of iron, which is essential for the proper transport of oxygen in the blood. Related post: One Food That Can Increase Your Colorectal Cancer Risk
Whether your queasy stomach is caused by pregnancy-related morning sickness or an upcoming visit from the in-laws, ginger can most likely help. A review of six double-blind randomized controlled clinical trials published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology concluded that ginger was an effective treatment for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Studies from 2009 to 2012 also showed great success combating the nausea from chemotherapy.
6. Almond Milk
Got milk? Well, you should! Calcium is crucial for building your little one’s bones, teeth, muscles, and nerves, and if you don’t get enough, your body might start pulling some from your own bone system. And that’s certainly not great news as all women are at risk of developing osteoporosis, a disease that causes weak and brittle bones.
While exercise like running can help improve bone density, calcium combined with vitamin D are essential parts of the equation. Calcium can not only keep bones healthy and strong, but it also helps fight fat and weight gain. While milk is the classic source of calcium, drinking whole milk during pregnancy has been linked with larger-than-normal birth weight, according to research, so we recommend sticking with almond milk.
The FDA recommends pregnant women get 600 IU of vitamin D a day during pregnancy, and waking up with two eggs for breakfast will cut that number down by 100 IU. This vitamin is so important because, in addition to helping your body absorb bone-developing calcium, vitamin D is key for healthy skin and eyesight, and has been associated with a lower chance of preeclampsia—a serious condition which can threaten your health.
Even better, a study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found a higher intake of vitamin D (equivalent to those two eggs) during pregnancy was associated with 20 percent less hay fever in her child at school age.
And as for your health? The sunshine vitamin has been found to reduce heart disease risk and ward off breast, colon, and ovarian cancers, say University of California San Diego researchers.
Nationwide, there are 4,000 neural tube defects (NTD)-affected pregnancies each year, making it one of the most common birth defects. NTDs are a group of disorders of the development of the brain and spinal cord. Because this part of the fetus develops within the first few weeks, which could be before a woman even knows she’s pregnant, doctors recommend that all women who are sexually active or are planning to become pregnant should consume folic acid—a B vitamin that is used by the body to manufacture DNA—daily.
Up to 70 percent of NTDs can be prevented if women consume just 0.4 mg/day of folic acid, and a cup of cooked asparagus gives you two-thirds of that recommendation. Also read: Dietitians Reveals Best 4 Supplements For Energy
Cod is a great source of omega-3s while being low in mercury—making this fish super pregnancy-friendly. That’s because the omega-3s found in fish are essential to developing proper brain function in babies.
An observational study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that moms who ate the FDA-recommended three servings of fish per week during their pregnancies birthed babies who had higher IQs and less inattention, hyperactivity, and autism symptoms than those who consumed the least amount of fish—regardless of the amount of mercury present in the fish. Researchers attribute these positive neurological benefits to DHA, one of the omega-3s in fish that is important in building neurons and cell membranes.